In search of elusive collard sandwich


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By Reggie Ponder

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I hope all of you had a safe and happy Independence Day.

I’m writing this on the morning of July Fourth and am looking forward to the rest of the day. With apologies to casual readers who might not have seen last week’s column, and in appreciation to those of you who read it every week, I wanted to finish out the story from last week about the collard sandwich.

The short version: We didn’t go to Pembroke, and I didn’t get to try the collard sandwich. Maybe I’ll make it out there this fall.

We decided there were things we needed to do at home so we’re staying home for the holiday and have been planning to catch the fireworks in Elizabeth City.

For those of you who missed last week’s column about the collard sandwich, or those who are like me and have already forgotten most of what you read a week ago, we’ll have a quick review. The collard sandwich, which is made and served by a small family food truck operation in Robeson County, consists of two pieces of fried cornbread filled with collards.

The collards are cooked in bacon grease. This is not a health food.

And as I said last week, it’s not something I would eat every day, or every week.

But I would still love to try one someday. If I’m not able to get to Robeson County anytime soon I might try my own version. That’s an entirely new thought and one that only occurred to me this morning.

I could cook the collards using water and bouillon, or maybe a small bit of ham hock, but probably not bacon grease. I could probably do a lower-fat version of the cornbread, too, but still go for that crispy texture.

Some of you might be wondering what would be the point if you start worrying too much about the fat content. I’m thinking, though, that it could be a decent compromise between flavor and health.

Compromise often ends up not being the bitter pill we’re afraid it’s going to be.

If I come up with a collard sandwich of my own that I really like, I might have it more often.

None of this changes what has now become a quest of sorts to get to Pembroke and find the truck that makes the authentic Robeson County Lumbee collard sandwich.

After all, sometimes the place is part of the flavor. It’s certainly part of the experience.

If you have ever eaten Eastern North Carolina barbecue anywhere other than Eastern North Carolina, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Stay cool and safe and have a great day.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer at The Daily Advance.